Rocket Engine Testing

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Rocket engine tests usually feature a distinct and steady pattern of Mach diamonds in their exhaust. This series of reflected shock waves and expansion fans forms as a result of the exhaust pressure of the rocket nozzle being lower or higher than ambient pressure. A rocket will be most efficient if its exhaust pressure matches the ambient pressure, but since atmospheric pressure decreases as the rocket gets higher, engines are usually designed with an optimal performance at one altitude.

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